Who is your favorite horse you’ve trained over the years and tell us about the most challenging horse you’ve worked with.
While it is true that I have trained some fantastic horses in my time, Johnny Tivio will remain my favorite for the balance of my days. Lomitas, a German Thoroughbred racehorse (European Champion), would sit solidly in second place. Johnny Tivio was an absolutely unbelievable performance horse that was responsible for four of my nine World Championships.
While I personally have affected the lives of more than 50,000 horses, it is natural for some of them to rise to a memorable status. Some because they were so talented and one might say GREAT, others might become memorable because they were so overwhelmingly challenging. Until recently, Blushing ET was my most challenging and Brown Prince, my most dangerous.
In the UK, Prince of Darkness was the most challenging, and in fact was the inventor of the Monty Roberts blanket, used by more than a 1,000 horses at any one time. This is a type of padding protecting the horses at the starting stalls in the racing industry globally. Prince of Darkness was a resident of Newmarket and went on to win races and become a sire.
It is only at this current moment that I am facing what is now the most challenging individual in my entire career. Her name is Kilbride and she believes that starting stalls are simply a place where humans take horses to be ground up for dog food. Kilbride is convinced that starting stalls were invented to thin out the horse population and a place to dispose of unfavored animals.
Prince of Darkness was a ten-day job, Blushing ET was the longest ever until Kilbride at 80 days. I am now on 375 days with Kilbride and I can easily anticipate another 100 to 150. Having said that it was just this morning that Kilbride reached the highest level of her journey to accept the starting stalls. If it were any other horse I would say she would race in a week or so, but she is Kilbride.
The important factor in the Kilbride story is that this mare has been a virtual genius in bringing me an education that will assist horses from this point forward. She has taught me lessons about the use of the starting stalls that I never dreamed existed. If accepted and utilized, her lessons will help young horses for the balance of our relationship with this species.
Note: The Horses in My Life is the book that described my story with many of the horses who most influenced me.